I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I have a lot I want to say about this book, but I'm up to my eyeballs in cold medicine so I'm not sure I'll be able to pull it off.
On the surface of it, this book is about a man - Jean Perdu - who owns a bookshop barge on the Seine, the Literary Apothecary and he's known for being able to prescribe just the right book each customer needs for whatever emotionally ails them, but he's unable to do it for himself.
That's really just the foam on this cappuccino though. Put another way, it's the bait to hook people like me into reading books like this. People like me being the ones that prefer lighter, non-emotionally confronting reads and books like this being the exact opposite of a light non-emotionally confronting read.
The Little Paris Bookshop celebrates the power of love while simultaneously focusing on the devastating, destructive things people do to themselves and each other in the name of love, out of love, or in an attempt to gain love. Love, love, love. And redemption.
What makes this book work is not only the beautiful, lyrical writing, but the way the author turns a few conventions on their heads. The main characters are all men who are recovering from or looking for great love; all three devastated by the acts of women who broke their hearts. There's only one male villain in the whole piece and he is off-stage the entire time.
The real 'villain' is a woman - the one who so comprehensively shattered Jean Perdu's life. She's not really a villain, although I'd bet most women will (not unfairly) think so. I'm not going to reveal why, as I think it's a big part of the story, but many will find it confronting and the woman selfish. I'll just say I think it's more complicated than that. Right or wrong, I could identify with this woman's questions and feelings at that age; I can't identify with making the same decisions, but I'll admit to fleeting moments in my youth wishing I could.
Sorry, I don't mean to be vague, but really, with the right book club, you could have hours of conversation coming from reading this story; you wouldn't even need a reader's guide to get you started.
Finally, a note on how beautiful the translation is. As Nothing better than a good book... pointed out in her review, it stumbles a bit about a third of the way in, and there was a phrase or two that I suspect wouldn't have felt so crass in the original language. About 2/3 of the way in, there's a list of "made-up" words/phrases that were supposed to sound extraordinary, but fell flat for me; I suspect in the original language they worked as intended. But for about 80% of this book, I had a hard time believing it was a translation; it was beautiful.
[PopSugar 2015 Challenge: A book originally written in a different language.]